Saunders planning new concept for In Season

ARMATAGE — June 1 marks the last day of In Season, the two-year-old restaurant by Chef Don Saunders at 5416 Penn Ave. S.

In its place, Saunders will take the summer to give the space a facelift and iron out his new restaurant concept, tentatively called “Pearl.”

“It’s a changing, weekly tasting menu,” Saunders said. “We’ll have four or five courses of whatever we want to cook that week.”

Saunders said he’s ending In Season because the concept is too similar to his restaurant The Kenwood at 21st & Penn. The new tasting concept is something he’s always wanted to try. And now if he takes a special order of local morels, he can list it on the menu for a week without worrying about future supply.

The restaurant would only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. It will open next fall, perhaps in September.

“I’ll be going to the farmers’ market on Tuesday and getting inspiration for the menu that week,” he said. 

Mesa Pizza wants longer hours

EAST ISLES — Mesa Pizza is once again exploring a request to extend its operating hours from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. on weekend nights.

The City Council shot down the pizzeria’s request last summer to extend the hours at 1440 W. Lake St., but it approved 3 a.m. hours for restaurants like Jimmy John’s and Toppers Pizza.

Managing Partner David Hathaway said his customers still want the store open later.

“A lot of our customers have tried coming after 1:50, 1:55, up until 2:20,” he said.

Before returning to the City Council, Hathaway said he is first approaching the area neighborhood representatives for input.

“We haven’t 100 percent made up our minds,” he said.

Another boutique heads to 50th & Xerxes

FULTON — The retail hub at 50th & Xerxes is welcoming Bella Boutique to the mix, a transplant from Mendota Heights.

“I’m really a Minneapolis girl at heart,” said owner Susan Engelhart.

Engelhart and her husband previously operated the Mendota Heights store and a coffee shop out of the former “Fischer General Store,” which operated in the 1940s selling durable dungarees.

“We tried to replicate the feel of the previous store,” Engelhart said.

Her products include handbags, jewelry and clothing by Kerisma Knits and Ariella. The shop at 3100 W. 50th St. is available for private parties.

Engelhart said the Minneapolis clientele is particularly attracted to her Weston Wear dresses, and the shop is fielding compliments for its reasonable prices.

“You can look pretty without spending a ton of money,” she said. “The fashions are really fun this year. Designers have done a nice job coming up with fits that are flattering on lots of different women.”

Bakken Museum experiencing spike in visitors 

WEST CALHOUN — The Bakken Museum is drawing huge numbers with its free passes on the second Saturday of each month.

“We’ve had over 600 people,” said Annette Hanley, external relations director. “Word of mouth got around.”

Following the expiration of the public library’s free museum passes, staff decided to offer the free day at Bakken for all of 2013.

One of the science museum’s biggest draws is its four summer gardens — including a wetland area and a plot inspired by a European medicinal garden.

Another favorite is “Mindball,” a competition to relax and achieve the slowest brainwave activity.

“Parents really love that exhibit,” Hanley said. “It can get the kids to calm down really quick.”

In the future, the museum plans a new exhibit related to the rooftop solar panels that were installed last summer. The museum is also hosting new happy hour events for adults a few times each year.

Dance studio opening in Old Arizona 

WHITTIER — The Mactír Academy of Irish Dance opens in an Old Arizona studio this month at 2821 Nicollet Ave.

“Only in Irish dance do you get to do performances at crazy concerts,” said owner Emily Wolff, who has performed with bands including the Dropkick Murphys. Mactír means “wolf” in Gaelic.

Wolff said the studio is a “hidden gem.” It originally served as an apartment for Old Arizona co-owner Darcy Knight, she said, and it was later converted to a studio for rent by the hour — Paula Abdul once rented the studio for dance choreography, she said.

Wolff started Irish dance at the age of four, giving it a try at the encouragement of her neighbor Jim Brooks, editor of the Irish Gazette. She retired from competition in 2003, moving on to dance and teach with the Rince na Chroi School of Irish Dance in St. Paul.

Wolff also works at the Union Gospel Mission Child Development Center in St. Paul. She said one reason she was attracted to the space is Old Arizona’s commitment to nonprofits that support teen girls.

“I want [my students] to strive for excellence, not just in the studio but out in life,” she said.

Walker resurfacing update 

LOWRY HILL — The exterior of the Walker Art Center will remain under renovation until December.

Bricks are deteriorating on the 1971 Edward Larrabee Barnes building, according to staff, and the resurfacing is not a cosmetic fix.

“The original bricks have deteriorated faster than expected due to damage from moisture and the freezing and thawing of harsh Minnesota winters,” said Meredith Kessler, assistant director of public relations.

In late June, the Walker’s Sculpture Garden will receive a new sculpture in honor of its 25th anniversary.

“For Whom,” by Kris Martin, is a church bell that swings continuously without making a sound. The bell came from a small church in southern Germany.

The sculpture will be dedicated in honor of Martin Friedman, the Garden’s creator and former Walker director from 1961-1990.

Noted 

LINDEN HILLS — The women behind the women’s e-retailer LilyandViolet.com and the Rick Rack Boutique at 3413 W. 44th St. are combining to transform the store into the Lily and Violet Boutique.

The collaboration expands the clothing selection at the boutique; it’s now targeted for women ages 20 and up. 

THE WEDGE — Track 29 City Apartments now provides a leasing office open seven days a week at 2743 Lyndale Ave. S., featuring a sample kitchen and bathroom with design finishes on display.

The project at 2841 Bryant Ave. S. is scheduled to open July thru September of 2013.

Building amenities will include a heated dog park, saltwater natatorium, zen garden and fitness center. Units range in size from smaller “alcoves” to two-story apartments.

THE WEDGE — Elan Uptown also opened a leasing office in February for its first building, which is set to open in August.

The project is located north of the Midtown Greenway between Dupont and Fremont, featuring an outdoor kitchen, fire pits, pool, fitness center and direct access to the Greenway.

The leasing trailer is located on Dupont between West 28th and 29th streets.

THE WEDGE — The Ackerberg Group has selected Perkins+Will to design the second phase of MoZaic, a project near Lagoon & Fremont with 150,000 square feet of office space and new retail.

Perkins+Will was selected in part for its track record in sustainable design, the developer said. The company designed Great River Energy’s headquarters in Maple Grove, which was the first platinum-level LEED certified building in the state. LEED, a ratings system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.